Shares of Marshalls plc, the Elland, West Yorkshire-based stone and landscaping firm, fell about 9% on Wednesday after it published an AGM trading update covering the first four months of its 2022 financial year.
Despite reporting that revenue for the period was up 7 % at £201 million, Marshalls warned of a “more uncertain trading environment” in the construction products market.
Marshalls said in its outlook: “The Construction Products Association’s recent Spring forecast predicts an increase in UK market volumes of 2.8 per cent in 2022 and 2.2 per cent in 2023, which is a modest reduction from the previous winter forecast and reflects a more uncertain trading environment.
“The group continues to operate in an inflationary environment and it remains confident that input cost increases can be passed on through the supply chain.
“The board remains focused on developing future growth opportunities, delivering the strategic objectives set out in the 5-year strategy and realising the opportunities that the acquisition of Marley will bring to the group.
“The board is confident of achieving its 2022 expectations, which have been increased to include a material contribution from the acquisition of Marley.”
Marshalls reported that revenue in its public sector and commercial end market for the four months was £137 million and accounted for 68% of group sales.
“This represents an increase of 14 per cent compared with the same prior year period on an equivalent days’ basis, which reduces to 12 per cent on a reported basis,” said the firm.
“Sales have been particularly strong in civils & drainage and bricks & masonry and the strength of the concrete brick performance has been particularly encouraging, with a strong new build housing market underpinning this demand.
“The group continues to focus on those areas of the market where higher levels of growth are expected, being new build housing and infrastructure projects in road, rail and water management.”
Revenue in Marshalls’ domestic end market, 26% of group sales, was £52 million.
“This represents a reduction of 8 per cent compared with 2021 on an equivalent days’ basis, and 9 per cent on a reported basis,” said Marshalls.
“Order books have remained very healthy in a historical context with the survey of domestic installers at the end of April 2022 showing an order book of 19.4 weeks (2021: 17.2 weeks).
“However, despite end customer demand being strong, there was a reduction in installer capacity in March and April compared to the prior year, largely due to more holidays being taken in 2022 compared to 2021 when the country was in lockdown.
“The comparative picture is expected to progressively normalise during the remainder of the year.”
Sales in the International business for the four months ended 30 April 2022 increased by 3 per cent compared with 2021 and includes Marshalls NV in Belgium, which was also against a very strong comparative result in 2021.